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Archive for the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ Category

Nations have grievances.  Look at the Balkans, always fighting over some mid-fourteenth century slight.  But most leaders have the good sense to recognize that the rest of the world might find their problems slightly ridiculous.  Asif Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and possessor of big enough balls to become famously corrupt in Pakistan – reflect, for a moment, on how corrupt you have to be in Pakistan for it even to be noticed – decides to take his issues to the Times.

But consider the history as seen by Pakistanis.  Twice in recent history America abandoned its democratic values to support dictators and manipulate and exploit us. In the 1980s, the United States supported Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq’s iron rule against the Pakistani people while using Pakistan as a surrogate in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That decade turned our peaceful nation into a “Kalashnikov and heroin” society — a nation defined by guns and drugs.

Did he say “peaceful”? (more…)

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Still trying to process all of my objections to the current Afghan strategy into something moderately coherent, so I’ll start with a very different story: Fritz Henderson was rather suddenly and unceremoniously dismissed as CEO of GM.

General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson resigned after eight months on the job as directors concluded he hadn’t done enough to fix GM’s finances and culture, people familiar with the matter said…Henderson’s exit caps a tenure that included aborted deals to sell the Saturn, Saab and Opel units, a struggle to replace top managers such as Chief Financial Officer Ray Young, and U.S. market-share losses. (more…)

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Even as we wobble towards a coherent Afghanistan policy, Iran continues to be a massive thorn in our side.  What do we do when all of our options are terrible?

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Eight years.

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I hate Dick Cheney.  I cannot imagine a more disgusting combination of power and venality in American politics.  We have more than our share of scum over the years, but whether by luck or by horse sense we have managed to keep the worst of them out of high office.  Sarah Palin lost.  Ronald Reagan blew up the budget, but at least he had the basic sense not to let the Beiruts of the world distract him.  Nixon and Kissinger and Johnson had plenty of flaws, but amazingly managed rise above the shenenigans that got them to high office by doing some good when they got there.  And Dubya…well, seems hard to blame anyone who was this unable to comprehend his job:

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Two American journalists working for Current TV demonstrated a rather poor sense of geography and got themselves captured on the south side of the Yalu River.  For their trouble, they won a 140-day trip through the North Korean penal system, a journey that only ended when Bill Clinton went to Pyongyang and got them out.  Best of a bad situation, right?  Wrong, according to John Bolton and the FOX News team:

No finer example of the blinkered thinking that got us into so many problems.

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The conventional wisdom seems to be that Vietnam was a bad war because we lost.  Pity, because the tragedy is that there was nothing there to win.

It is a distinction that I fear has been lost among our political leadership on both sides of the aisle.  It’s easy to imagine war as capture the flag – two grand armies fighting to seize the other’s capital city.  Onwards for glory, to Mexico City or Richmond or Berlin.  But the world can be maddeningly more complicated.

During the campaign John McCain insisted on what I would call the Martingale strategy of combat: just keep throwing troops at the problem.  It reflects all the frustrations of Gulliver among the Lilliputians; how is it that this band of people who cannot block our advance in any cardinal direction can so stymie our will?  Why won’t they give in?  Surely you don’t expect us to give in to them?  They cannot make us yield.

But is it yielding to have the confidence in our strength to follow our interests?  The heavyweight champion does not need to fight every barroom goon.

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Seems Pakistan wants money, well, just because:

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told two top U.S. envoys that his country needs “unconditional support” in a range of areas to defeat the al-Qaida and Taliban fighters threatening its survival.

The sentiments reflect Pakistani dissatisfaction with American pledges to tack conditions onto billions in expected aid funds designed to help Pakistan end militancy in its borders.

Those conditions are just plain annoying, since all Pakistan wants to do with the money is put it in offshore banks and jihadi training camps.

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But sometimes I hit the Pacific Ocean…

It seems our favorite dictator’s new missile didn’t quite work out as well as planned:

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command officials acknowledged today that North Korea launched a Taepo Dong 2 missile at 10:30 p.m. EDT Saturday which passed over the Sea of Japan/East Sea and the nation of Japan.

Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean.

No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan.

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So we’re getting down to the wire for the North Korean missile launch.  Sorry, satellite launch…as if North Korea has a serious need of a communications network.

North Korea has a few things to gain from this:

  • They enjoy tweaking the US, Japan, and South Korea about our impotence.  The Western nations jump up and down and threaten sanctions and resolutions, and North Korea has shown over decades that nothing the West can say is going to hurt it.  So long as China sticks with them, they are safe.
  • A military confrontation with the West puts China in a difficult bind.  North Korea remains useful to it, so in a bind China needs to give North Korea some support.
  • It’s a great way to test Obama when he clearly has other fish to fry.
  • It allows Kim Jong Il to show other members of the ruling clique that he is in control.

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